It may be that the “Mm, mm, mm” song is the trend of a new generation. But I still can’t forget my favorite childhood song from “Sesame Street,” where they flashed four pictures and sang: “One of these things is not like the other; one of these things just doesn’t belong.” It was up to discerning children to figure out that picture of the vegetable didn’t belong in the group of fruits, or that a letter didn’t belong in the group of numbers. Children are smart, you know!
But are we? Can we still discern when something is just not right and just doesn’t fit? It is the trend these days in reality TV to redo everything we don’t like – thus the barrage of makeover programs, such as “What Not to Wear,” “The Biggest Loser,” “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy,” “Supernanny,” “Nanny 911,” “Restaurant Makeover,” “From G’s to Gents” and “Extreme Makeover,” just to name a few. So should we be surprised when filmmaker Oliver Stone announces that he, too, is going to make a makeover series and do a “Nip/ Tuck” on history by giving Hitler and Stalin a whole new look? The famed director has decided to put Hitler “into context” in an upcoming Showtime documentary called, “Secret History of America.”
Stone has been quoted as saying, “I’ve been able to walk in Stalin’s shoes and Hitler’s shoes; to understand their point of view.” Perhaps Stone would have done better to walk in the pile of hundreds of shoes on display at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum. They are the shoes of murdered men, women and children that have long outlasted their owners. Perhaps he should have walked on one of the death marches from Nazi concentration camps, where prisoners were forced to walk half-naked and shoeless over long distances – with death often coming as a mercy.
Stone may also want to travel in the shoes of people who were just like you and me – living their lives, laughing, enjoying, paying bills, kissing and loving, who began their days as regular citizens and ended their days as lampshades or piles of hair and gold teeth. Let him walk in fields where Jews were stripped naked in front of their fathers, mothers, friends, neighbors and rabbis, humiliated, their heads shaven and forced to run around for Nazi entertainment before being shot to death. Let him walk the terrifying road where Jews trembled with fear as they were herded into buildings where they entered as mothers and children and exited as ash and smoke. Let him walk in the shoes of individuals who were the guinea pigs of Nazi medical experiments, all to advance the Übermensch ideal.
Until he does indeed wear those shoes, it seems so fitting for Stone to have said that “Hitler is an easy scapegoat throughout history,” conveniently forgetting that 6 million murdered Jews were a much easier scapegoat. How chilling it is in the face of such evil that Stone can rationalize and tell the Television Critics Association: “We can’t judge people as only ‘bad’ or ‘good.’ [Hitler] is the product of a series of actions. It’s cause and effect.”
It seems highly ironic that Stone’s announcement came out the same week Miep Gies died. She was the woman who risked her life smuggling food and supplies to Anne Frank and her family and some others she hid from the Nazis in an attic in Amsterdam. Gies also preserved Anne’s diary as a testament to the evils Hitler perpetrated on innocent human beings.
We are now at a juncture where one who risked her life to shed light has died and one who wants to give evil a makeover is about to arise. We have already given the war on terror a makeover by calling it ”overseas contingency operations” and changing terrorist acts to “manmade disasters.” Now it’s time to give Hitler a makeover, too. While Stone is at it, in celebration of MLK Day, why doesn’t he put slavery into “context,” too? Or is that not à la mode yet? These revisionists of history scare me not only for what they are trying to erase, but for what they are planning.
We must not let the darkness spread again. It will begin with Stone’s remake, and it won’t be long before our school children will be singing:
He said that all must lend a hand
To make [his] country strong again
â€¨Mm, mm, mm!â€¨ Adolf Hitler!
I urge you to take stand against Showtime before they allow that series to air and not to go gently into that ever-darkening night! This is one makeover show that “just doesn’t belong,” for the day that it does, we will all be “the biggest losers.”